Donald Jennings is a man of many talents, including cooking.
The chemical engineering technician assigned to CBRNE Analytical & Remediation Activity Response West is informally the unit’s chef. Every morning Jennings pulls double duties while on project as not only the rescue team leader in the event of an emergency, but also serving up hot plates of freshly cooked breakfast to the Soldiers and civilians of the 20th CBRNE Command. The 20th CBRNE Command is the Army’s Chemical, Biological, Nuclear, Radiological and high-yield explosives headquarters.
Jennings said he has a passion for cooking and grilling and does it not only at home but also at work.
“I just want to ensure everyone is properly fed for a hard day of work in this hot Alabama weather. And if it helps boost the morale of everyone on site, that’s even better,” the Sheridan, Arkansas native, said.
The unit is working on Redstone Arsenal near the Tennessee River with the Corps of Engineers and a federal contractor to conduct a land survey. The intrusive survey began in January on the former ordnance and chemical munition disposal site.
Every morning while preoperational checks are being conducted, before the site goes intrusive the aroma of bacon emits from the break trailer.
Spc. Griselda Torres, a CBRN Soldier from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, on temporary duty with CARA-RRW, works in the Personnel Decontamination Station. She said everyone is busy in the morning trying to get their checks done so they can be ready for not only intrusive operations but also when Jennings calls “B5, that’s our code word that breakfast is ready.” This can be a challenge for her, she said, because “I’m wearing chemical personnel protective equipment on standby in case we detect chemical agents and have to decon personnel or if the UXO team recovers a chemical munition down range.”
Jennings also serves as the unit’s master resiliency trainer. After multiple deployments to Iraq and austere temporary duty assignments as an Army civilian, he appreciates how a hot meal can improve an overall situation.
“I strive to help everyone maintain their mental and physical well-being,” he said. “It’s grueling work here with physical demands and long days. We are here for months on end, so I have to take an unconventional approach to ensuring everyone cannot only sustain themselves but also thrive individually and collectively function as a team in this environment.”